A new farm bill could have big impact on Louisiana's agriculture

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WEST MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Congress is trying to come up with a new farm bill before the current one expires in September. One that Louisiana AG Commissioner Mike Strain says has a 300-billion dollar impact on the U.S. economy.

Photo: RichardBH / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 / MGN

"The farm bill is what sets the roadmap for the largest industry in America," Strain says.

Strain says protection is key, which is why finding a good insurance plan for farmers is something he would like to see on the bill.

"Without proper insurance, you can't get loans from the bank. Without loans from the bank, you cannot buy, you know, the tractors, the equipment, the seed, the fertilizer, because agriculture is big business," Strain says.

Strain says the investments made by farmers go beyond loans and insurance, because they rely on an immigrant workforce.

"Without those people, because those jobs are offered to Americans first, we lose the industry, we lost that productivity, and it hurts our economy," Strain says.

So he wants lawmakers to work to reinforce immigration laws, such as the H-2A bill, for migrant workers.

"We need to raise the cap right, on the returning gap workers, or do what we did in 2015, that if you're a returning guest worker, then it doesn't count towards the cap," Strain says.

He also says the bill should cut 20-billion dollars from funding for food stamps.

He'd like to see that money go to other programs for low-income Americans.

"It will be used in that program to help people get off of food stamps and back into the workforce," Strain says.

Strain hopes a decision will be made on a farm bill before the mid-term election.